Permanent Secretary in the Division of Culture and Sports, Shirley Farnum,?? congratulating Balozi Cheryl Williams of the Garrison Secondary.??(C. Pitt/BGIS)??

There is a move afoot "to strengthen our children’s sense of identity in order to build their self-esteem and confidence, while at the same time unleashing their innate creativity".

Word of this has come from Permanent Secretary in the Division of Culture and Sports, Shirley Farnum, as she delivered the feature address yesterday during the Commission for Pan-African Affairs’ installation ceremony for 22 teachers who completed an intensive two-day Mabalozi Training Workshop. They will now be recognised as ???Africentric Ambassadors’.

According to Ms. Farnum, the Mabalozi Programme also aimed to fortify the national foundation from the earliest opportunity by teaching children to respect each other.

"The programme validates, empowers and supports you, the hardworking teachers, who are charged with the awesome responsibility of cultivating the minds of our children, our most precious possession," she surmised.

She assured her audience that the Ministry of Family, Culture, Sports and Youth was cognisant of the needs of younger Barbadians, hence the reason why the programme was designed to also target pre-school children.

Ms. Farnum promised that her Ministry would forge closer collaboration with the Ministry of Education in order to explore ways of fully institutionalising this innovative programme. "Already, we have committed over $70,000 to educational programmes through the Commission for Pan-African Affairs. But, this has to be a collaborative effort, a partnership that not only involves Government ministries, but which, at the same time, takes into account recommendations coming from you, the Mabalozi.

"You are our ambassadors on the frontline in this struggle for our children’s minds. It is a struggle, which, for the sake of our future and our country we must not lose," she challenged the teachers.

Deputy Director of the Commission, Tempu Nefertari, acknowledged that this programme stood apart from others because it addressed the root cause of low self esteem and the sense of inferiority that existed among some children.

According to Ms. Nefertari, the perspective and verbal influence of parents, significant persons in the home, teachers and peers, shaped how children perceived themselves and how that perception influenced their actions and behaviours.

She pointed out that the Mabalozi programme embodied four major principles – a positive manner towards children; an attitude of humility, honesty in self-reflection and courage to replace ignorance with knowledge; and teachers as honest exemplars.

However, the Deputy Director stressed that the greatest challenge the Mabalozi faced was "employing this approach among those children who are hostile; among those to whom care and compassion are foreign; and among children who have been blinded by their own emotional suffering".


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